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                            Phad folk paintings from Rajasthan
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JYOTI PRODUCTION

Par paintings have a long history. John Smith, a scholar of the epic of Pabuji, states that the earliest par known to him dates from 1867. The British Lieutenant Colonel James Tod, in the account of his travels through Rajasthan in 1819 (published eight years thereafter), reports a ceremony that included a par painting. Perhaps the tradition of the cloth par derived from an earlier wall painting tradition. There are examples of Devnarayan pars painted on the walls of Devnarayan temples in Rajasthan; these are similar to wall paintings in Rajasthan’s Shekhawati district that date from the 18th century.

However, the narrative, bardic tradition of the recitation of the hero epic has faded—as have other similar oral traditions in India—in the face of the mass media of the twentieth century. And similarly, the purpose of the par painting has changed. Many Rajasthani pars painted today are no longer meant for the bhopas’ use but are expected to be purchased by collectors. Thus, sizes smaller than the original 35 by 5 feet are often produced. Also, new themes are being introduced, such as scenes from the life of Krishna; nevertheless, paintings of the exploits of Pabuji and Devnarayan are still very common.

 

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